Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bison birth control on Catalina Island

I know, hard to believe, but the bison (also known as American Buffalo) on Catalina Island, CA are protected ... in more ways than one! They were first introduced on the island in 1924 for the silent film "The Vanishing American." Fourteen of them. They did not make the final cut for the film, and due to cost over runs, they were abandoned on the island when the filming was done.

Since they had no natural predators, they flourished! Their herd grew up to 600 head! They were never hunted, but for a number of years, the Sioux and Lakota paid for many to be shipped to North and South Dakota where the bison lived out their natural lives in the cold climes of those reservation lands.
Conservationists have calculated that the island, just 22 miles long by 8 miles wide, can support a herd of 150 bison. Recently, a new birth control vaccine has been given to the females which limits their fertility without interfering with the natural reproductive cycles. 

I saw the herd last weekend while on a trip to the island. Up near the airport where my husband and I waited for the marine layer to lift so that we could take off to come back home, they grazed on the browning grasses. Sadly, they were too far away for this sketch, which I did using a taxidermy stuffed head above the fireplace in the lobby at the Airport in the Sky.


Casey Klahn said...

I love this sketch!!

Very open and loose. Stuffed heads are a great resource. I never knew this about Catalina.

Jan Yates, SCA, Canada said...

oh I miss Catalina -are there still no cars allowed?

i can see why you were inspired to paint a Buffalo -I really like the broad head filling the parimeter as well as the splash/swipe of paint.

this rendering has a real primitive feel to it-almost tribal--maybe it conjures memories of old cowboy movies--hate thinking how so many animals suffered in the making of those films .

such a brilliant solution re the birth control--really too bad they can't do that with all wildlife deemed 'nuisance' because of urban spread-much more humane than shooting and trapping

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

Great story, thanks for sharing it.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Casey: thanks! I might have to befriend a taxidermist for future sketches!

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Jan: only golf carts (and a few cars with permits). When were you on Catalina Island? Thanks about the sketch.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Nancy: great to hear from you! We'll be up your way for the holiday weekend. Will you be out on the water?

Nancy Van Blaricom said...

No, we are not going any where. Birthday party planned for a friend. Hope it doesn't rain the whole week-end.

SamArtDog said...

This is a wonderful bison sketch. You managed to give it much more life than the taxidermist did, I'm sure.